The Apostolic Faith body was called into existence in conjunction with Elder W. Joseph Seymour of Los Angeles, California and others. Since that time, the body has experienced times both good and bad. Nevertheless, by the help of God and the leaders inspired by God to stand in the way, seek the old path, and walk therein, we have been able to continue to strive in the Apostolic Doctrine. As a united people, we have been growing in the Lord in many ways. The men that have led this convention should be highly esteemed for their contributions to this sacred organization. They are:
Founder – Bishop William Joseph Seymour
Bishop William Joseph Seymour was born in Louisiana and moved to Houston, Texas at an early age. There, he was converted and became a Baptist minister. In 1905 he began studying in a Pentecostal Bible school. Shortly after entering this school, he became an advocator of the view that baptism of the Holy Spirit was a third and final experience in Salvation.
Elder Seymour was a very meek man with a powerful anointing for preaching and teaching the Word of God. He is most noted as pastor of the world renowned Azusa Street Revival in Los Angeles, California from 1906-1909, where miracles of healing and salvation took place. Services were held three times a day, seven days a week during this three year period. In these services, the manifestation of the spirit was poured out on many believers with the evidence of speaking in tongues. The Spirit of the Lord visited these meetings in a way that was seldom seen in the United States or in any other place in the world.
As a result of the Azusa Street Revivals, Elder Seymour has received notoriety for pioneering many of the Pentecostal or Holiness churches around the world. After the revival, he traveled in various sections of the Unites States establishing Apostolic Faith Missions and in 1911 he visited Handsome, Va. where he established and set aside officials in the Apostolic Faith Missions known today as the Apostolic Faith Church of God.
1st Chief Apostle – Bishop Charles W. Lowe
Bishop Charles W. Lowe was set aside as Senior Bishop and Chief Apostle of the Apostolic Faith Mission, Handsome, Va. in 1911. The Lord blessed the work under Bishop Lowe to include churches in the states of North Carolina, Maryland, Ohio, Pennsylvania, New York, and New Jersey, with one foreign mission in Liberia, West Africa.
In 1941, the Apostolic Faith headquarters moved to Suffolk, Va. Bishop Lowe presided as bishop until, in 1952 in his old age, he decided to appoint another presiding bishop. Bishop Lowe died in 1954.
2nd Chief Apostle – Bishop John Thomas Cox
Our second bishop, Bishop John Thomas Cox was born in Marion, Alabama in 1898. He married Sue Bertha Jordan in 1924 and they raised six children. In his early twenties he entered the ministry and attended the A.M.E. Seminary in Memphis, Tennessee. Upon completion of his training, he served as pastor in the AME Church. He was a church builder and as an AME minister he established churches in Sharon and Farnell, Pennsylvania, Salem, Ohio, and Fairmont, West Virginia. In 1932, Bishop Cox entered the Pentecostal Church. In 1936, he met Elder Tom Standberry of Meadville, Pennsylvania and Missionary Laura Shanks of Franklin, Virginia and decided to affiliate with the Apostolic Faith Church, where he was ordained as an elder by Bishop C. W. Lowe.
In 1952, Bishop Cox was appointed Presiding Bishop by the Chief Apostle. At the death of Bishop Lowe in 1954, he was voted to be Senior Bishop. During his leadership, he established churches in Jefferson, Conneaut, and Ashtabula, Ohio and in Erie, Braddock, and Warren, Pennsylvania. Bishop Cox served faithfully until his death in 1964.
3rd Chief Apostle – Bishop Robert Clarence Butts
Bishop Robert Clarence Butts was born in 1904 in Southampton County, Virginia. He became a member of St. Paul Church in Sedley, Virginia. Bishop Butts entered the ministry at an early age. He married in 1923 to Sara Hanshaw and they raised one daughter. In 1927 they moved to Baltimore, Maryland and began to pastor. In the year 1964, he was appointed Senior Bishop of the Apostolic Faith Church of God body. Under his leadership many churches and missions were added to the body.
The present five acres of land that now houses the Apostolic Faith Church of God headquarters in Franklin, Virginia was purchased in 1971. Bishop Butts served as the bishop until his death in 1980.
4th Chief Apostle – Bishop Oree Keyes, Sr.
In August 1980 during the Annual Convention, Bishop Oree Keyes was officially elected and installed as Senior Bishop of the Apostolic Faith Church of God. He was married to the Henrietta Sue Terry and had five children. Bishop Keyes was a hardworking skilled carpenter who built his church and home in Jefferson, Ohio and who willingly helped with the construction of other churches within the AFCOG. He was a liberal giver who donated thousands of dollars at a time, as well as, surrendered many offerings back to the church to promote the work of God. Bishop Oree Keyes, a man of hospitality, loved and promoted fellowship. He maintained an open-door policy, allowing anyone and everyone to enter the Bishop’s suite to converse and dine with him and his family.
Bishop Keyes, extended fellowship beyond the bounds of the Apostolic Faith Church of God. He led the way in establishing the Azusa Fellowship, which encompassed the fellowship of six dioces that originated from the churches established after the Azusa Street Revival in Los Angeles, California by Bishop William J. Seymour. Those church organizations are: the Church of God Holiness Unto the Lord under the leadership of Bishop Moses Lewis; The Apostolic Faith Churches of God and Christ formerly under the leadership of Bishop Griswald and currently led by Bishop Johnnie Anderson; Scott’s Revival Center under the leadership of Bishop Clinton Scott; Tabernacle of God Holiness Church under the leadership of Bishop John Marshall Sharp; under the leadership of Steve Willis; and the Apostolic Faith Church of God Live On under the leadership of Bishop Richard Cross.
Under the leadership of Bishop Keyes, there was much focus on building a hallowed edifice for the Lord. In 2000, the Apostolic Faith Church of God entered into a beautiful, new sanctuary consecrated for the Lord.
Due to Bishop Keyes’ inability to serve after being stricken with Alzheimer’s, Vice Bishop Robert Lewis Lyons, Sr. became the presiding bishop.
5th Chief Apostle – Bishop Robert Lewis Lyons, Sr.
Although he was physically afflicted from a stroke, in 2004, the Apostolic Faith Church of God elected Bishop Robert L. Lyons, Sr. to serve as the Senior Bishop. A man full of love for the people of God, Bishop Lyons promoted unity between and among the saints. He too, was a man who loved to be hospitable. Bishop Lyons received the leadership mantle and poured extensive finances into the AFCOG.
Bishop Lyons presented himself as a true leader, strong in faith, presence, and financial leadership. He believed God would provide everything we needed to continue the work He had entrusted in our hands. As well, he trusted that we as a people could accomplish anything through unity and love. Though his body was afflicted from the effects of a stroke, he faithfully attended the conventions and met with officials of other church organizations in order to keep us connected with other kingdom workers. Furthermore, Bishop Lyons led the way in donating funds from his church and personal bank account to support the upkeep and further development of our headquarters, the General Assembly.
Bishop Lyons was a dynamic revivalist who conducted revivals throughout the Apostolic Faith Church of God and for numerous other church organizations. He so passionately expounded on the word with power and vehement strength that he held longtime annual revival appointments. His love for the Word and for the people of God caused people to travel from miles to hear him preach, sometimes following him in revival from church to church, week after week.
His messages were enhanced as he bellowed out the gospel in song. A blessed and highly anointed soloist, Bishop Lyons loved to lead the church in praise through song. He was well known for singing “I’m Yours, Lord,” “In the Morning, When I Rise,” and “I’ll Fly Away.”
With a natural gift for demonstrating love, Bishop Lyons was always complimentary of others, especially for their accomplishments in regards to the church. He was appreciative of every effort made by even the smallest member of the convention and was very generous with praise. Bishop Lyons was known for encouraging the saints to unite in love. Moreover, he was a genuine leader in this philosophy as he sought to implement plans that would benefit as many of the people as possible.
Although his term as Senior Bishop was short-lived, Bishop Lyons truly inspired the people of God to move forward in righteous works. In June 2007, he was called home to be with the Lord and Vice Bishop Climatee Roberts assumed the mantle of leadership in his stead.
6th Chief Apostle – Bishop Climatee Roberts
Our current Chief Apostle, is a business-minded man whose vision is for organization and enlightenment. Senior Bishop Climatee Roberts’ plan is to aide the Apostolic Faith Church of God in moving forward spiritually, physically, and technologically into the 21st century. Thusly, we have established our website which will allow us to correspond with each of you who will take the time to inquire about us through cyberspace.
Although he possesses many leadership characteristics, Bishop Roberts has also served in numerous other capacities in the church and is an especially gifted and passionate singer who leads the recording group, “The Harmonizers of Faith”. Thusly, he still loves to play his guitar and sing during praises and worship.
Together with his beloved wife, Missionary Lenora Smith Roberts, Bishop Roberts has raised four children. Although God has dealt with him concerning faith throughout the years, his personal testimony of how God healed his youngest child of cancer has blessed him to be able to encourage the saints of the Apostolic Faith Church of God to trust God and keep the faith. As a prophet of God, Bishop Roberts has prophesied that the Apostolic Faith Church of God will not die, but flourish. He admonishes us to trust in the Lord and hold fast to his promises.